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The Post-PC Era


For the past nine months, my mother has been living without a computer. She gave up her Windows notebook with the intention of buying a tablet, but quickly found that purchase unnecessary.

To be clear, she hasn’t quit the web. She still emails. She’s still active on Facebook and other networks. She still conducts Google searches for quick answers, pulls up directions to places around town, plays music and watches the occasional viral video. She does everything she did on her old notebook, but on the Samsung Galaxy S smartphone she carries in her pocket

This is what is implied by a ‘post-PC era’, a heavily hyped epoch when traditional Mac and Windows machines are replaced by the next class of devices, smartphones and tablets. When someone tells me it would never be possible to live with just a smartphone, I tell them about my mom.

You may have noticed in last week’s write-up of six budding social networks that all, except Pinterest, are based entirely on smartphones. That’s because, with a few exceptions, the innovators in social media have turned their full attention to mobile platforms before even considering the desktop browser. It’s where technology and consumer interest is heading and where the biggest innovations and gains remain unexplored.

There are several core reasons why the most notable social startups are preempting the post-PC era and focusing on smartphones today. Most critical, however, is that smartphones do new things. They’re always on and always in your pocket. They’re always connected. They know where you are. And they’re flexible – your smartphone will guide you turn-by-turn to a stunning mountain vista, capture the moment in a beautiful landscape shot, upload it to Facebook, then call your girlfriend so you can tell her about it (it is still a phone after all). The vast difference between smartphones and the last generation of cellphones and traditional computers can be easily ignored, but smartphones are a truly a world-changing evolution.

This helps explain why young social startups are developing on smartphones first and, more generally, why the post-PC era is inevitable. Entrepreneurs are realizing the new and unexplored opportunities waiting in the latest smartphone and tablet technology and are racing to be the first to innovate them. These sorts of innovations increase the value these devices offer consumers, tugging them further and further from their notebooks and desktop computers. Furthermore, smartphones and tablets do nearly anything notebooks can, and increasingly do it better.

My mom couldn’t be happier with her post-PC lifestyle. After years of struggling to move photos from her camera to her notebook and to the web, she’s a pro at uploading them within a few taps of taking them on her Galaxy S. She loves that using Google Maps to get somewhere no longer means printing out a cryptic list of steps, but hearing turn-by-turn directions every step of the way. She loves that quick weather reports and movie times don’t require a five minute boot up. She may not realize it but she’s ahead of the curve, living on the cutting edge of the post-PC era.

Written By: Stephen McVerry

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